Dantega:Volume 2 Chapter 1
Chapter 11: Her and the King
A blond haired woman is walking down a long corridor accompanied by a large man clad in blue and white armor. The woman is wearing a light white dress that drags to the floor, on her wrists and around her neck are beautiful gold and blue diamond jewelry with the inscribed letter of a capital T. The man's armor has similar inscriptions on it as well.
“So what is the war report, Sturgess?” the woman asks.
To which the man named Sturgess replies, “The La'Juutians were the first to take the initiative with an offensive strike, but our western branch border defense regiment are holding their own for now. Our eastern branch offensive regiments are in the process of invading Eiyalazo, though getting through that wretched forest is to our disadvantage.”
“All in all, are things going good or bad?”
“Well I'd say they are going better than expected; plus, our recruitment centers are adding thousands of applicants each day. It seems that our country has united for this cause.”
The woman smiles, she turns her head toward him, revealing her large dark gold eyes. She is strikingly beautiful and looks much younger than her actual age of 35.
“That's good... though so many of them disagreed with my decision to obtain peace, it only takes a betrayal of that promise in order for them to all agree on something, it's actually quite funny. But I am sympathetic to their outrage; one of those rotten countries has my daughter, I'd expect nothing less than righteous indignation from my citizens.”
The woman continues to walk down the corridor until they reach a large glass door, they walk through it and enter a large balcony. The balcony sits near the top of a large castle. Though not as massive as the castle of La'Juune, this one has a much more intricate design to it and the stone to the structure is white. The curtains in the windows are all blue, and at the top point of castles flies a white flag with a large blue letter T.
The view from the balcony is like it came out of a fairy tale, beautiful snow capped mountains tower over lush green fields. Dark green pine trees are spotty throughout these fields and intertwine quaint wooden houses that lay to the side of cobblestone roads. Similar to what a more densely populated mountain town inSwitzerland would like, other than the castle, not many of these houses or buildings rise all that high, giving this city the feel that it has perfectly bonded with its natural environment.
Sturgess sighs and rubs his light beard, his hair both on his face and his head is of a salt and pepper color, with his hazel eyes he looks to be in his late thirties and has a rather large scar printed over his right eyebrow.
“I definitely didn't foresee this happening, Earth’s first official attempt at world peace ends up turning into a world war... the irony certainly stings a little.” he said while looking at the view.
The woman pulls a long pipe out of a nap sack connected to the belt on her waist, she lights a match and begins to smoke the scented tobacco leafs already grinded into the bowl of the pipe. She roughly blows out a cloud of smoke.
She looks out in the distance and asks, “Do you know why a woman such as myself is the one to rule this country, and not a man?”
Sturgess stands in silence as she continues.
“It's because men are only good for fighting, whilst women are better suited for decision making. Thus the reason why I alone run this country through my intellect, and that idiot husband of mine is out there on the front lines.”
Sturgess looks away and with his mouth makes a sour expression.
The woman inhales another drag off her pipe and continues, “The La'Juutian government has taken for granted the fact that I gave them my only daughter and rightful heir to my throne in an attempt at finally making amends for past violence. Whether they kidnapped her themselves, or allowed her to be taken away from under their noses is an unforgivable offense.”
With her eyes she scales the beautiful city, she rests her head on her hand and says, “The people of my country see it the same way as I do. I rather like my daughter, if something happens to her, my anger would know no bounds. Plus, I'd need to have another child to become the future Queen. Which would mean that the idiot husband of mine will have to live through this war. This could lead to a dreadful succession if we don’t get her back.”
Sturgess twitches his eyebrow and quickly replies, “In the case of the King's death, wouldn't it be easy to find another husband?”
The woman smiles and answers, “Of course it would be, the thing is, I don't want to. Nor will I do so if that becomes the case.”
Sturgess frowns and raises his voice, “But that would jeopardize our country's future!”
The woman turns to him, blows a plume of smoke in his face and laughs. “No need to get so worked up Sturgess, I'm only kidding. Though I wouldn't want to bare a child with anyone other than him, I'd have no choice in the matter.”
She tips her pipe over and watches the ashes float away in the wind off the balcony.
Once they falll out of view, she walks toward the door and pats Sturgess's shoulder and says, “Perhaps you would be the best candidate for my future husband?”
His hazel eyes brighten up with excitement, the woman continues to walk into the castle, leaving him behind.
Through the echo of the hallway she continues to speak, but this time she makes the mockery in her tone more obvious. “But I wouldn't get my hopes up if I was in your position. You, the King, and I have been friends since we were kids. You should know very well that that idiot won't ever die out there. He loves me and his daughter far too much to be stupid enough to die like a dog in the mud.”
The door shuts and his vision of the woman can no longer be seen.
Sturgess turns and leans on the balcony railing, he takes a deep breath and says to himself, “Oh Queen Lelaine, that's where you're wrong. The King fights in my army, and with his death, I'll finally be able to have that body of yours. Hehehe, with his death, I'll become the King of Troy!”
“Hey you idiot! I said get your ass over here!!!”
Responding to the sound of this girl's a voice, a man scurries out of a group of soldiers huddling around a campfire. This man has faded brown hair and dark green eyes, he's wearing blue soldier's armor and looks to be a typical army man.
He runs to the front of the girl who called out to him, moves his arm to a saluting position and shouts, “Yes mam!”
The tan skinned girl frowns and grabs his collar to maneuver his upper body lower to her position. “If I remember correctly, I specifically asked you to clean the latrines did I not?”
The man shows a nervous smile as a cold sweat rolls down his temple, the girl's crimson red eyes grow bright at the sight of his face and she loudly blows air out of her nose.
“You're lucky I'm in a good mood tonight, I had someone else do it.” She turns her head around quickly, and as a result whips the man with her wavy black hair, she walks a few feet away from him and fiddles with the white clothe worn under her thin red armor. “But! If I catch you slacking off again, I'll have you on guard duty for twenty four hours straight!”
The man jumps in fear at her declaration and once again postures himself for another salute before replying, “Y-Yes mam!”
The girl stops her walk and turns half of her body toward him, with a blushing red face and her eyes diverted away, as if not wanting anyone else to hear her voice she softly says, “I've told you this before... call me Ash.”
She blinks awkwardly a couple times and then walks away into a crowd of loitering soldiers.
The man sighs loudly and scratches his head, he walks back to the campfire and rejoins the group, he heavily drops his body and sits on a log seat. The whole group of nine men simultaneously burst into laughter at the expense of the scolded man.
“Buahahaha, jeez Zurvick, she really has an out for you.”
“No kidding, she's a total nightmare for all of us but she is a complete demon to you!”
The man named Zurvick scratches his head and comes to her defense. “Oh come on guys, she's just doing her job as our Captain.”
One of the men nudges Zurvick's shoulder rather hard and says, “Being a strict captain is one thing, but sadism towards one of her underlings is another.”
Another one of the men adds, “Isn't she only a teenager?”
“Ooh yeah that's right! She's only nineteen, we all tend to forget her age because she talks to us like we're children.”
Zurvick drops his head and says, “Okay okay, give her a break.”
A man teasingly wraps his arm around around Zurvick's head and asks, “Could it be that you're some kind of masochist?”
Zurvick attempts to move the man's big arm and replies with a panicked voice, “No! Of course not! It's just, it's just...” He gives up on escaping and shows a troubled expression along with a strained smile, “She's close to the same age as my daughter... though their personalities are different, I can't help but be reminded of her when I see the Captain.”
The vibe of the group suddenly drops; they all show saddened faces.
One of the men tries to comfort Zurvick by saying, “That's what we're fighting for, right? I'm sure we'll get her back!”
The rest of the group all say their agreements and Zurvick smiles.
This group, along with the entire division of 350 men are currently residing in the Liceiin forest of Eiyalazo. Most, if not all of this country lies in a continent wide forest, an abundance of large pine, sequoia, and banyan trees spread throughout its entirety. In this country, nearly every species of tree exist here as a result of an equator shift and a north and south pole slide after the Apocalypse. But this Liceiin forest is located at the western border of Eiyalazo, the forest is densely populated with an excess of 300 foot high sequoia trees and whittled with the roots of hundred foot high banyan.
Unlike most other sequoia forests, the massive and thick trees are so close together that at some points they are touching; this, combined with the intertwined roots of the banyan trees that hang overhead makes this a deadly terrain. If one were to get lost or stuck, it'd be near impossible to escape a certain death. It's only noon in the forest but it is close to pitch dark due to the tightly encroached trees that make daylight spotty and it gives off the feeling that it is a never ending night.
Captain Ash walks through the fire lit camp and proceeds towards a large tent. She glances at a few men standing guard and they nervously stiff up. Ash huffs air out of her nose, walks in the tent and sees three men with concerned looks on their faces. One of them is holding a piece of paper in his hand and a messenger hawk in the other.
Ash's eyebrow twitches and she asks, “Message from the higher ups?”
The man replies, “Yes mam.” and hesitantly hands her the paper.
She reads it and her eyes grow large, with a double take she frowns and shouts,
“What the hell is this!?”
Zurvick is still loitering around the campfire with the group, due to the lack of sunlight, the campfire is needed for both warmth and light. Out of a nap sack he holds on his waist, he pulls out a canteen filled with a sweet Trojan liquor. He takes a swig and lays back in his log seat. The man next to him sees this and says, “I see you’re still drinkin' eh?”
Zurvick leans up and replies, “Yeah, both my wife and I have to kick these little habits of ours.”
The man looks at him with an interested expression and asks, “Your wife drinks also?”
Zurvick smiles and replies, “Nope, she smokes tobacco out of a pipe. Every time I drink, I think about how we need to quit so we don't leave a bad influence on our daughter. Haha, but the thing is, I'm always the one sending her the many different kinds of tobacco leafs from all the lands that I have visited, and she always brews me this delicious sweet liquor so I can make it through these long days a little easier. Huahhh~, such bad parents we are.”
He is still wearing a large happy smile, it only hits him now that he just went off in a tangent about himself and turns to apologize when he sees the large eyes of the nine soldiers staring at him intensely.
“W-What? Is there something on my face?”
One of the men drools and says, “Wait a minute... so you're saying that the liquor you always carry is handmade by your wife?” “...Well yeah.”
In an instant, all of the men pounce on him in an attempt to grab his canteen.
“Ooooaahhh!! What's going on here!?” Zurvick desperately shouts as he protects his flask with his life.
All the men are yelling at him and shoving at each other to obtain his alcohol, they yell, “Zurvick you bastard! You've been holding out on us this entire time huh!?”
“Come on come on, just one little sip of her liquor and I'll be set for life!!!”
“Uahhh I can smell it in your breath! I bet it tastes like heaven! GIVE IT TO ME!!!”
Zurvick continues to try to push the nine meathead soldiers off of him. “No way! She made it for me!”
This rowdy scene is truly quite comical, one can't help but see how well they all get along.
This is when Ash walks to them and sees the men wrestling around, her eyebrows steepen and a vein can be seen in her forehead. She takes a deep breath and releases a thunderous roar, “ATTENTION!!!”
All the men scurry around and fall over themselves, after a few moments they all stand astute and simultaneously shout, “Yes mam!”
Ash puts her hands on her hips and walks to none other than Zurvick; her bitter frown is making him increasingly nervous.
She sighs and her frown dissipates, she shows a wary face and hesitates to say, “Our spy in the Eiyalazonian military has given us a map of their location, and the plans of their next assault on our very own 105th Specialist Division.”
The group's body language completely changed upon hearing that; a seriousness invades the aura of this once jubilant air.
Ash folds her arms and continues, “The problem is that they heavily outnumber us three to one. We'd be slaughtered if we go up against the a force like that in this forest, thus making preemtive a counterattack impossible.”
One of the men strokes his beard and asks, “Pardon my interruption mam, if that is the case, what are we supposed to do?”
Ash shrugs her shoulders and wears an almost bitter smile when she answers, “The higher ups specifically ordered an undercover mission to go behind enemy lines to kill the Captain of the Eiyalazonian Assault Platoon to disrupt their plans.”
The men all jump at this, they smile and laugh as they excitedly say, “An undercover mission!? All right! They won't know what hit em' if the ten of us fight together!”
The men shove and nudge at each other until they are halted by the sharp voice of Ash. She holds out her hand, lifts her finger up and simply says, “One.”
They grow silent in confusion as she continues.
“The higher ups specifically ordered one man to attempt this mission.”
Ash maneuvers her index finger and points it into the group.
“Specialist Zurvick Niveusvenia, you alone have been selected to assassinate the Eiyalazonian Captain Ditreig Von Ronheim.” All of the their faces turn blue with shock.
“What the fuck kind of order is that!?”
“That's right! It's a goddamn suicide mission for one person alone!”
An immense anger is felt among them as they all shout obscenities and question this unreasonable order.
Ash lowers her head and with a frown replies to their uproar, “I tried to dispute it... but those damn bastards, all they said was, 'Once an order is made, it is absolute.'"
“Why him of all people!? It's bad enough that he is only a Specialist grunt like us, but this is just ridiculous! If anything, he should always be protected!”
The man halts his rant when he feels a hand press on his shoulder; he turns around only to see Zurvick, completely geared up and ready to go. The man shouts, “You can't be serious!?”
Zurvick's face grows intense as he walks past the group; with his back to his comrades he says, “It is the job of the King to protect his people... not the other way around.”
The men pause in silence, as if intentionally breaking this tense moment, he turns around wearing a big smile and says, “Don't worry about it guys! You know me, there's no way I'd die here of all places.”
Along with the group, even Ash is wearing a troubled expression.
Zurvick sees this and puts on another stupid smile and says, “Ooh, Ash! Could it be that you are worried about me??”
Ash's face glows to the same color of her crimson red eyes as she shouts, “O-Of course not! Why would I be worried about an idiot like you!?” Her eyes shift from him to the group and back to him again, she shoves him and yells, “And who said you could call me Ash!?”
“Huh? Didn't you just sa-”
“Shut up you idiot!!”
Zurvick jumps back and looks at the men, he thinks to himself, (Ohh okay, I may be getting it now.)
He laughs in his usual nervous tone, with a smile he waves goodbye and walks off towards the darkness of the forest. Ash tut-tuts, shows a troubled face and follows after him.
All of the men lean on one knee and bow their heads, in perfect unison they all say,
“Good luck, King Zurvick!!”
“Hey, you've been following me for quite some time now... aren't you going to turn around soon?” Zurvick said to Ash, who is no more than a few feet behind him.
“I'm just making sure you don't get lost, I'm leaving soon.”
“Uh, I have the map in my hand you know?”
Ash punches him in the back of his head. “Yeah but you have nothing in that dome of yours, it's imperative that I lead my dumbest soldier on the right path.”
Zurvick sighs and rubs the area of his head that was just hit. “I could be as dumb as a rock, but I'd still be the luckiest man alive.”
“Jeez, you always go on and on about your luck.”
“Well it's true, since the war started I've been on a few missions similar to this one and I've made it out each time without a scratch!”
Zurvick continues his leisurely walk as if there is not a single worry in his mind.
Ash stops and frowns, “Now that I think about it... you have been on a lot of these near suicide missions.”
She is about to continue but her thought process is stopped by the feeling of a gentle flick of a finger on her forehead.
“Whenever something bothers you, you always furrow your brow. You know you’d get wrinkles if you keep doing that?”
Ash rubs her forehead and says, “How nice of you to worry about my appearance, idiot old man, trying to smooth talk me like that. But might I remind you that I still outrank you, you can’t be going around flicking your superiors on their forehead so casually!”
He laughs and replies, “Ah I apologize, Captain. You’re right, I just get a little carried away when I see you like that. You’re so much like my daughter it’s hard for me to remember that you’re a soldier.”
Zurvick takes the canteen from his pocket and takes a light drink before saying, “You have a long military career ahead of you, you shouldn’t worry about what my role in the army is as the King. Just keep your head down and survive this war.”
“Humph! You’re talking like someone who doesn’t believe he’s as lucky as he says he is.”
Ash is still frowning, her glare is suspicious and Zurvick can feel the heat of it beating down on him as he looks into her eyes.
“You know,” Zurvick says, smiling stupidly, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile, I bet you’d be very cute if you did.”
Caught off guard by the sudden change of subject, she jolts back with a flushed face.
The King turns and begins walking away, “You take care of yourself, Captain. I’ll be back in a few days.”
She grabs a stick from the ground and hurls it at him, it slams into his back and he hits the deck like a ton of bricks.
Zurvick twists his body while shouting his ouches, he slowly looks up as if he is expecting Ash to do something else to hurt him. But much to his surprise, Ash is standing over him with her hand held out.
“You may be the King of Troy, but you're still my underling, so don't get too cocky with those sweet words of yours. It's gross!”
Zurvick grabs her hand and smiles. “Yes Captain.”
She helps him to his feet and says, “You know, I also notice things about you.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you’re lonely, you drink out of your flask. When you’re feeling nostalgic, you drink. When you’re worried, you drink. And when you’re nervous, you pretend that what’s making you feel that way doesn’t exist.”
She pats him on the shoulder and shows him a toothy determined grin.
“So because of that, I’ll be accompanying you on this mission.”
“Hah?” Zurvick moans in confusion as she walks past him.
She turns around with the same smile on her face and says, “And I thought I told you... call me Ash.”
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